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Rancilio Silvia...recommended? (Have read multiple cg reviews, more info please)
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Ristrettolover
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Apr 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Queensland, Australia
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sun Apr 28, 2013, 8:14pm
Subject: Rancilio Silvia...recommended? (Have read multiple cg reviews, more info please)
 

I'm looking at buying my first espresso machine (which I will probably upgrade in 3-5 years). I'm looking at getting a Rancilio Silvia machine and a Baratza Virtuoso Preciso grinder. My only concerns for Silvia is that apparently it can take 30 mins - an hour to heat up. On days I'm going off to uni (4/week), I can't wait that long. My brother-in-law suggested plugging the Silvia into a powerpoint timer that would turn on at say, 6 every morning. Would this work? If the Silvia has an additional AC/ON switch, could I just leave that switched on, and leave the timer to do all the work?
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,044
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 12:28am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia...recommended?
 

Welcome to CoffeeGeek!

I'm afraid, any espresso machine with a boiler (SBDU, HX or DB) will take 30 to 45 minutes to properly heat up, because it's not only the water inside the boiler that'll have to reach brewing temperature, but the brew group and portafilter as well. However, using a time switch will work and is common practice.

 
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"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 654
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 1:14am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia...recommended?
 

Well, before I start, I should mention that my own personal experiences with the Silvia were excellent. It is a great machine in its own right, but it is technologically outdated
and in need of vast improvements. It is a great machine if that's all you can find. I guess in some ways you are paying more for the name than for the feature set of the machine.
However, in saying that, the machine I used to own was very durable, well built and worked like a charm.

So yes, you can leave a Silvia on and connect it up to a timer. However, these machines really were not designed for that. Any SBDU machine will not have a way to automatically
fill the boiler, you have to do it manually before you finish using the machine so the boiler is already full when the timer kicks on. Leaving the machine on for extended periods of
time is not advised. (ie. More than an hour without use.)

If the boiler is near empty and the timer kicks in, there is a very real possibility that the machine can overheat and cause the safety thermostat to pop. This also has the tendency
to shorten the lifespan of the components of the machine. To avoid this problem, I would advise that you consider looking at a machine which automatically fills the boiler instead
so that this isn't an issue. I can't remember if that thermostat is self-resetting or not.

Don't let the long warmup time discourage you. I'll probably get flamed for this, but I felt that I could warm my Silvia up in about 15 minutes before it was ready. The Silvia has a boiler
that holds as much water as a pop can, so it heats up fairly quick and stabilizes fast. What I found worked for me was to wake up and immediately walk over and switch it on. By the
time I answered my call of nature, got dressed, combed my hair and got ready to go to work, the machine was ready and I could start brewing shots. If you can spend 20-30 minutes
allowing it to warm up, that's better, but realistically, I found it was fine after 15 mins...

Do you have any other options in your area? Lelit machines are a bit cheaper, but offer better value for the money. Read the reviews on them on this site.

You really haven't mentioned what your requirements for a machine are or what your budget is.

The choice of grinder is a good one though.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 654
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 1:27am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia...recommended?
 

I thought I should just add one small thing to this post..

Like Nobby said, any espresso machine, regardless of make, model or type, excluding thermoblock machines, will require a warm up time.

The thing to keep in mind is that the machine will actually mislead you.  

For example, the Silvia has a BOL (Big Orange Light) which tells you when power is being applied to the boiler heating element. The thermostat
will kick out after about 5-10 minutes once the boiler water is up to temperature indicating that the machine is ready for brewing, however the rest
of the components of the machine won't be warm enough yet. Mainly the brew head, the boiler metal and the portafilter itself, which receives heat
from the brewhead.

Now, there is a way to "Cheat" the Silvia and get it up to temperature quick, but it's a bit of a procedure. I've done it before myself when I was in
a rush, there is a whole guide to "Cheating Ms Silvia" on the net. You just have to Google it. I believe it would be applicable to most other SBDU machines
as well, but I haven't personally tried doing it on other machines.

One of the key selling features of any espresso machine (Excluding Thermoblock machines) is temperature stability and good thermal inertia.
Unfortunately, you can't get that with a thermoblock machine at all.. The larger the boiler the machine has, the more thermally stable it will be,
but the longer it will take to build up that thermal inertia.

In any machine with a boiler, cool water enters the boiler and cools the boiler down, but if the boiler is already quite hot, that water heats up faster
and is more thermally stable, resulting in a much more consistent brew.

Now, in my previous comment, I mentioned an auto-fill for the boiler.. Most low end heat exchanging machines (At least to the best of my knowledge)
have an auto-fill on the boiler. However, that will probably result in doubling your machine budget if you decide this is a must have..

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,082
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 4:41am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia...recommended?
 

+1  I also have a Silvia and a 15 min warm up is ideal.  If your in a rush then around 5 min in flush water through the portafilter.  Any machine in your price point or higher will require this warm up time. The Silvia is a solid machine.
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Ristrettolover
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Joined: 28 Apr 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Queensland, Australia
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 5:07am
Subject: Thanks! Any tips on machines then? Specs below...
 

Thanks for the answers guys!

Well, if it's a little outdated, I would be more than happy considering another machine. I just don't know how to look for another one in my price range. So...

I've got a max budget of $1500, and the Preciso I can get for $300. I need to get a good quality milk jug if that's not included, and a good quality tamp and portafilter. I usually only drink espressos or ristrettos, and occasionally piccolos or lattes, so an SDBU machine would be fine for me (although a HX would be very handy if making milk coffees for family or anyone we have over). Also, I'd prefer a semi-auto for the extra control you get over it.

One question with the HXs though... does anyone ever have a problem with the water for extraction coming out too hot, and burn the coffee?

Thank you for all your replies!
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,082
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 6:16am
Subject: Re: Thanks! Any tips on machines then? Specs below...
 

For that price range I would consider the Crossland CC1 Click .  It's basically the replacement of the Silvia in the single boiler world. It's got all of what the Silvia offers with a PID, auto refill and continuous steaming. Seattlecoffeegear has it on sale right now + 10% off.  

I personally will stick with the Silvia though for other reasons.


They also got a package deal for the Silvia + Preciso + RW Tamper + 1 lb Coffee + shot glasses + Warranty for $838. Click
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Zevi
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Mar 2013
Posts: 112
Location: Ann Arbor
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 8:05am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia...recommended? (Have read multiple cg reviews...)
 

Adding another angle to your considerations: I have some friends who own the Silvia and also from reading posts in these forums -- it appears that sooner or later most users find they need/desire to add the PID device to the machine. This will add about $200-$250 to your investment, so you might want to factor this into your decision of whether the Silvia is the right choice today. I suggest a quick search of these forums (start with 1 year back, so you don't get too many hits) for "Silvia PID." It will give you an idea of (1) whether the PID will really be necessary for you, and (2) alternatives to the Silvia that will come with the PID.

Good luck!
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 862
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 8:43am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia...recommended?
 

You've got the budget to go straight to an HX machine. Something like the new Cuadra or NS Oscar (or a good used machine from the BST forums here)  and still get your steaming pitcher and tamper (good portafilter comes with those machines, and you can add a bottomless pf for not much, if you feel inclined).

If you just walk up to an HX machine that's been idling for a while witih no shots pulled, yes, the water will come out too hot. That's why you use a cooling flush, somewhat of a misnomer, really, since it both flushes the overheated water out of the heat exchanger (the "cooling" part) and heats up your brewhead (and portafilter, if you flush with the pf locked) to an appropriate temp. adds about 15-20 seconds to the time to pull a shot and has the added benefit of making sure the screen is clear.

Any machine on a switch will need to have a vacuum breaker to ensure that it comes up to temp properly. A vacuum breaker releases the "false" vacuum that occurs when the boiler cools. Without a breaker, you need to open the steam valve to bleed off the false pressure in the system, otherwise the system doesn't come to proper temperature (less atmpspheric pressure means lower boiling temperature, which means the pressurestat that tells the system it's at pressure triggers at a lower temperature and you end up with a system that will never get hot enough). So that's something to look for. One of the most common mods to an Oscar is to add a vacuum breaker so it can go on a switch. The La Nuova Era Cuadra somes stock with a vacuum breaker.
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Ristrettolover
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Apr 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Queensland, Australia
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013, 3:27pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia...recommended? (Have read multiple cg reviews...)
 

Sure thing, thanks. What is a PID by the way? I tried googling it, but didn't get any useful answers.
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